Confessions of a Watergate Junkie

I cut my political teeth on Watergate. It was the first political event during my lifetime that I followed obsessively and I remain deeply addicted to any nuggets of Watergate-iana.

It was also the source of considerable familial tension as the shit slowly hit the fan during. My father was not only a Republican but had been a Nixon delegate at the 1972 GOP Convention. His thesis was that Nixon was too smart to have allowed so much dumbassery to go on. I was then, as now, of the school that even smart people do stupid things and let things slide out of control. So, we spent 2 1/2 years arguing Watergate. I was right and he was wrong but he was never going to admit such a thing. So it goes.

There’s all sorts of Watergate news as we approach the 40th Anniversary of men in suits being caught breaking in to the DNC’s office. Convicted Watergate shitbird, Chuck Colson, a serious candidate for the malakatude hall of fame, died the other day at the age of 80. Colson was the second biggest asshole in an administration full of dickishness. President Tricky was, of course, the bullgooseloony asshole.

Colson also achieved notoriety by being one of the godfathers of the GOP’s unholy alliance with religious fundamentalists. Colson allegedly swore off politics after establishing a personal relationship with Jesus in the slammer but I never bought it. How could you buy it from the guy who said: “If you grab them by the balls, their hearts will follow.”

In other Watergate related matters, it looks as if Woodstein’s claim that they never spoke to any of Judge Sirica’s grand jurors simply ain’t true. Woodward protege, John Himmelman, stumbled into some info in Ben Bradlee’s files that contradicts that assertion. Talking to grand jurors is a no-no BUT the statute of limitations is Woodstein’s new best friend. It also appears that the whole red flag in the potted plant detail of the Deep Throat story may be an embellishment. Guess Woodward should have kept that under hisMark Felt hat…

Finally, movie Woodward, Robert Redford, is planning a new Watergate documentary for the Discovery Channel. (Hmm, wonder if they plan to run it as a part of Shark Week?) This has led fellow Watergate buffRon Rosenbaum to urge them to *try* and solve the ultimate Watergate mystery: who ordered the break-in. Rosenbaum and I are as one in our conclusion, Tricky pulled the trigger and then planned how to lie his way out of it:

The best summary of my case appears inthis column from 1999: in which I pull together the fragments of the evidence that Nixon was the one who gave the order. Here are the bones of my argument: Nixon is heard on a recording made two days after the news broke of the break-in proclaiming that he was shocked by it and—knowing the tape is rolling—saying it was silly for anyone to break into the Democratic National Committee party headquarters because any savvy pol would know that all the valuable dirt would be found in the (yet to be named) presidential candidate’s headquarters.

And then he delivers one of his most inculpatory statements on tape: “That’s my public line.” In other words, that was how he was going to lie his way out of any connection: By arguing that if he were planning a break-in, he wouldn’t have targeted Watergate, because nothing of value could be found there. When, in fact, as later tapes and witnesses would show, he thought something very, very important to his future might be there.

I’m pretty sure that then DNC Chairman and later NBA Commish Larry O’Brien had some dirt on Tricky’s connection with Howard Hughes after the mogul stopped looking like Leo DeCaprio and began to resemble aMonty Python Hermit dude. Dirty money was second nature to the germophobic billionaire…

End of today’s spasm of Watergate mania. To be continued when John Dean comments…

Here’s a video Jude sent me a link to. If you hate it, blame him not me but who among us hatesFuturama?

3 thoughts on “Confessions of a Watergate Junkie

  1. MichaelF says:

    As amazingly creepy and never take a road if there’s a lower road to take as Nixon always was…I still think at best he okay’d something from the equally creepy mind(s) of Liddy, Colson, et al. Not because Dick wouldn’t scheme up something like that himself, but by that time he was more than willing to delegate the dirty stuff to his underlings.
    A while back I met someone who’d been a “Nixon Girl” in 1968…her description of the family — all polyester and drenched in booze — stuck with me. Yikes.

  2. CybScryb says:

    I remember a discussion in college about the wonders of muppets and Reading Rainbows, etc. When the line came around to me, I couldn’t help but give as vivid a description as possible of Sam Ervin’s caterpillar eyebrows on my PBS station’s broadcast every day after school. There was no better way to get a young person’s vote in 1976 than the Watergate hearings. I registered Republican but looking back earlier this month, I’ve never cast a vote for a GOP candidate for president in my life. And considering the bottom of the barrel candidates they’ve offered in my lifetime, I might never.

  3. I just read Thomas Mallon’s “Watergate: A Novel.” Or should I say tried to read it. Got about 2/3 of the way through. You might like if, if you’re a Watergate junkie. I found it oddly … boring. One that really resonated though was how batshit insane G. Gordon Liddy and Chuck Colson were. And the fact that these guys are heroes to the right today, along with criminals like Oliver North, is astonishing. I don’t think the left embraces its felonious crooks and liars in quite the same way.
    I was just a kid during Watergate. I was at summer camp when Nixon resigned, I remember they played his resignation speech over the loudspeaker.

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